‘Moana’ Sequel, Originally Planned as Disney+ Series, Heads to Theaters This Thanksgiving

The new feature hits theaters on Nov. 27

See the line where the sky meets the sea? That’s where “Moana 2” will be, come this Thanksgiving. Bob Iger, Disney’s embattled CEO, made the announcement that a “Moana” sequel — which was originally developed as a Disney+ series — will hit theaters for the Thanksgiving holiday during a CNBC interview ahead of the company’s Q1 earnings call.

The series was originally announced at an investors day event back in 2020, when the company was trying to ease the public’s fears about the pandemic and the company’s output. Originally titled “Moana: The Series,” it was produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Canadian outpost, which is also were animation for a series based on 2009’s “The Princess and the Frog” is being worked on.

Supposedly the episodes were coming back looking so good that Disney was contemplating releasing the series as a feature film. The debate has been going on for the past few months with a decision finally reached: “Moana” the series is now “Moana” the sequel and it’s coming to theaters everywhere on Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Image from “Moana 2” (Disney)

Of course, this being Disney, there is also a planned live-action “Moana,” which is set for release the following summer, on June 27, 2025. That movie will feature Dwayne Johnson reprising his role as Maui, with original screenwriter Jared Bush also writing the new script. Thomas Kail, best known for directing the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” and “Hamilton,” is directing “Moana” (which also features music from Miranda).

Miranda, who wrote the songs for the original “Moana,” will not be back for the sequel. This time around the music will be provided by Grammy winners Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, with Grammy nominee Opetaia Foa’i and composer Mark Mancina. Foa’I and Mancina worked on the original film as well. But Barlow and Bear are new to Oceania.

The original “Moana” was directed by Disney legends Ron Clements and John Musker and co-directed by Chris Williams and Don Hall. It was released for Thanksgiving 2016, where it pulled down $682.6 million, which is impressive, but was dwarfed by Disney Animation’s other 2016 release “Zootopia,” which also beat “Moana” for the Best Animated Feature Oscar.

In the years since the release of “Moana,” its popularity has only grown; it has become one of the most popular film titles on Disney+ (a sing-along version was released just last year) and an original attraction,  The Journey of Water Inspired by “Moana,” recently opened at EPCOT, part of the sprawling Walt Disney World complex outside of Orlando, Florida.


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